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Mentally ill and their backers fill Vt. orchestra

December 26, 2013 • Entertainment


In this Sept 12, 2013 photo, provided by Me2/Orchestra, Ronald Braunstein conducts a rehearsal of the orchestra in South Burlington, Vt. Bipolar disorder slowed what might have been an explosive career for Braunstein. With his wife, French horn player Caroline Whiddon, Braunstein now runs the Me2/Orchestra, billed as “the world’s only classical music organization for individuals with mental illness and the people who support them.” (AP Photo/Me2/Orchestra, John Siddle)

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Ronald Braunstein’s career as a musical conductor got off to a brilliant start. He attended The Juilliard School, performed as a guest with top orchestras including the San Francisco Symphony and Berlin Philharmonic, and won the prestigious Herbert von Karajan conducting competition in 1979.

But bipolar disorder slowed what might have been an explosive career, including three five-year periods when, he said, he had trouble merely getting out of bed.

He met his wife, French horn player Caroline Whiddon, when she was working as manager of the Vermont Youth Orchestra and Braunstein was hired as its music director. She had struggled with anxiety and depression.

Braunstein’s bipolar disorder was a factor in his firing from the youth orchestra in 2011, they said. They responded by forming the Me2/orchestra — Me2, or “me, Login to read more

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